We were treated like royalty from the moment of arrival (thank you to the charming and gracious valets) and throughout the course of our leisurely meal (thank YOU to the mostprecious and beautiful Ashley who helped to make everything special for the birthday girl). The elegantly appointed dining room was relatively quiet on our weekday visit and we were seated in a window nook which provided a breathtaking view of both cerulean blue bay and sky on a perfect spring day. Wine and a stunning bread basket were promptly dispensed. How does life get much better than this? And look...no foil-wrapped butter pats were observed (a clear sign that you're dining in high cotton). Instead, a couple of little artisinal "melon-balled" selections accompanied this cellulite-inducing, yet irresistible, hand-basket to hell... one with a mildly "parmy" flavor and another enticing variety with the slight essence of fresh berries. Both were soft, subtle and sublime. While the French bread was très delish, it was trumped by the dense, almost otherworldly decadence of the moist slabs of raisin bread.
Warned in advance the sandwiches were huge and came with either regular or sweet potato fries, we took the "dainty" route and asked Ashley if we could sub the chicken soup for the mountain of carbs and cals to which we would've indubitably found ourselves unable to succumb had potatoes been involved. While the soup looked more bisque-like than expected when presented, someone in the kitchen clearly knows a little something about making a fantastic chicken stock as this silken offering was practically anvil-heavy in hearty, poultry flavor. Added bonuses included liberal bits of house bacon along with a charming and tasty chive dumpling "floater".
While there are a few non-sandwich/burger/salad offerings on Marchand's lunchtime menu, the aforementioned selections seriously dominate. Aries Wench opted for the Angus Burger with Shredded Short Rib, Provolone, Fried Onion and Horseradish Aoli. This is what an $18 hamburger looks like (along with a charming phallic pickle accent). Massive, exotic and apparently worth every penny...not a single bite remained after she had her way with it. You only turn 39 twenty or so times, right?
Admittedly not much of a sandwich or burger girl myself, I do love Mediterranean flavors and was unable to resist the lure of the Lamb and Beef Burger with Feta, Olive Tapenade and Tzatziki. Juicy, pink and uniquely packed with fresh-tasting accoutrements, this is the ultimate burger in Tampa Bay as far as I'm concerned. Be prepared to saw it into pieces because you'd have to unhinge your jaw to successfully lock your lips around it.
An unexpected (and complimentary) special touch appeared at the end of the meal in the form of a luscious slice of luxurious chocolate mousse cake, beautifully presented for the Birthday Girl.
Thank you, Marchand's...you're a class act!
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.